Pumpkin Turnovers (Empanaditas de Calabaza)

    Pumpkin Turnover Recipe
    Ana Sofia Pelaez

    Since discovering Day of the Dead several years ago, I’ve made my own small offerings like these empanaditas de calabaza. According to tradition, a spirits' sense of smell can be their last connection to the human world, so the pumpkin used in this recipe is slowly simmered with aromatic spices to lure them back. Tucked into an anise-flavored pastry crust, they can also be easily carried away, just in case the visiting spirits really can take any of the day's offerings with them.

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    Ingredients
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    Dough for the pastry:
    2 1/2
    cups
    unbleached, all-purpose flour
    2
    tablespoons
    sugar
    1
    teaspoon
    kosher salt
    3/4
    cup
    unsalted butter, cubed and kept cold
    1/4
    cup
    water
    1
    tablespoon
    anise seeds
    For the filling:
    2
    pounds
    pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cubed into 2-inch chunks
    5
    ounces
    piloncillo (about 1 cup), roughly chopped*
    1
    cinnamon stick, whole
    1/2
    teaspoon
    ground cinnamon
    1/2
    teaspoon
    ground allspice
    1/2
    teaspoon
    ground anise
    1/2
    teaspoon
    ground clove
    1/2
    teaspoon
    ground ginger
    For the glaze:
    1
    egg white beaten with one tablespoon of water
    *
    sugar, for dusting
    Directions
    Step 1
    Pastry Directions: Bring 1/4 cup of water to a simmer and pour over anise seeds in a heatproof bowl or measuring cup. Set aside until cool, about 15 minutes.
    Step 2
    Sift together the flour, salt, and sugar. Add to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until evenly distributed. Add the cubed butter and pulse until the butter flakes into pea-sized pieces, about 15-30 seconds.
    Step 3
    Strain the water and discard the seeds. With the machine running add the infused anise water to the dough until it just comes together, do not over mix. Pour out onto a floured surface and knead about 3-5 minutes until smooth. Shape into two discs, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes or overnight.
    Step 4
    Filling Directions: Combine all ingredients for the filling in a large heavy pot, stirring well so that the spices are evenly distributed. Cover and set over medium heat, stirring frequently. Watch closely until the pumpkin releases water and the piloncillo melts, adjusting the heat as needed so that the pumpkin does not stick to the pan. Continue to cook covered until the pumpkin is dark brown and falling apart, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
    Step 5
    Assembly Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
    Step 6
    If refrigerated overnight, bring the dough to room temperature before rolling. Starting with one disc, roll out the dough to 1/8-of an inch and cut it into circles about 4 inches in diameter. Lightly brush ridge of each circle with egg glaze. Place a spoonful of filling in the center of each circle and fold in half. Seal the edges with the tines of a fork.
    Step 7
    Brush with egg wash and lightly sprinkle with sugar. Bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until lightly golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool at least 5 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 12 large or 24 small empanadas.
    Tip:
    Whole cane sugar also known as panela and sold in Latin American markets.
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    Nutrition Facts

    Serving Size: 
    Serving Per Recipe: 
    12
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